France has given New Caledonia's politicians until May to organise a referendum on independence.
The French prime minister Edouard Philippe said if the Congress of New Caledonia failed to do so, the French state will organise the plebiscite by November next year.
In a policy statement, Edouard Philippe said he would personally ensure that the 1998 Noumea Accord come to its proper conclusion.
He said he was honoured to follow in the steps of Michel Rocard under whose auspices the Accord was signed as part of the decolonisation process.
The Accord provided for a phased and irreversible transfer of powers, with the process to end with a referendum.
The tri-partite agreement, which has the French state as a guarantor, was put in place to follow the 1988 Matignon Accords which calmed the territory after years of tension.